Tura, Nov 16,2017: The demand for a separate Garoland state intensified ahead of the 2018 election to the Meghalaya Assembly through a rally that was initiated by the Garo Hills State Movement Committee (GHSMC).
The rally began from Chandmari playground and passed through Tura bazar and culminated at Law college playground in New Tura. The rallyists shouted slogans – “A’ching A’song Tangbangchina” (long live Garoland) as they marched through the streets of Tura town.
The rallyists also displayed placards which read ‘Jago Modi Jago’ (wake up Modi) and ‘We want Garoland, no state, no rest!’ while making an attempt to make themselves heard on the demand for Garoland while stating the demand was genuine with an urgent need for its creation.
The rallyists cleared the doubt saying that Garos are demanding a separate state not because they do not want to live with its counterpart Khasi and Jaintia in Meghalaya but because it was an age old demand raised by their forefathers and it was high time that it was considered.
The rallyists drew attention of the public saying that Garo freedom fighter Sonaram R. Sangma had taken up the issue for a separate Garoland during the British era and Garo National Council (GNC) had also taken up the issue in late 1960s under the leadership of founding chief minister of Meghalaya late Captain Williamson A. Sangma.
However, as there was aspiration from the hills people for separate state during that time, the demand for separate hill state got momentum, leading to the creation of Meghalaya and other states carved out of Assam.
The Garo National Council (GNC), a political party that has been raising its voice for Garoland took the centre stage in the rally with its leader Kalpana Marak, wife of former minister Late Clifford Marak and president of GNC, member of district council Jimberth Momin and former deputy chief executive member of district council Augustine Marak urging the public to lend their support for the cause of Garoland state.
“GNC has been demanding Garoland since 1992 and has submitted series of memorandums. The demand got adequate support from many other regional parties of the state including HSPSP of late Hopingstone Lyngdoh and UDP but due to lack of political willpower, the demand is yet to be materialized,” said Augustine Marak, leader of GNC.
He also said that the regional parties of Khasi – Jaintia Hills mainly the Hill State Peoples Democratic Party (HSPDP), United Democratic Party (UDP) and People Democratic Front (PDF) has agreed to make the demand for separate state for Khasi and Jaintia and GNC has decided to raise the issue of Garoland in the 2018 state assembly election.
“We are committed to the cause of our people. The current government in the centre is of the idea to create 50 states in India, the Garoland has to be one of the state,” Marak said, while exhorting that based on linguistic line, the Garos ought to have a state of its own.
Chairman of GHSMC Nikman Marak informed the gathering that they have recently submitted their memorandum to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, President of India Ram Nath Kovind and Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh.
Nikman informed that the central government has said that demand for a separate state has to be passed in the state legislative assembly than only it can be taken up in the parliament. “It is important that political parties irrespective of their affiliation come together and raise this issue for the interest of the people of the state”, he added.
GHSMC has been spearheading their demand since 2012 and has held its 22nd rally today at Tura. They are going to further intensify their demand with similar rallies in other parts of Garo hills. Today’s rally did not have much participation barely around 1000 people but the spirit for the demand was high.